Noel cracked her knuckles when she saw the store clerk preparing to open the doors. The other hopefuls waited, rocking impatiently in their boots, the winter chill settling in below their thermals. Some people held friendly conversations knowing good and well once that door was opened friend, neighbor, foe would all go flying out the window.

Noel's local grocery store always had great deals during Black Friday. Noel was one of those people that hated to love Black Friday. She'd be lying if she said the thrill of catching the discounted holiday hams at over seventy-five percent off didn't push adrenaline through her veins. 

After playing the good neighbor last year and giving the last ham to an elderly woman, Noel was more determined than ever to scoop one up this year. Providing the holiday ham for Christmas was all on Noel's shoulders ever since her grandmother passed away. The woman was like a mother to her, raised her when her parents died. Until she saw the pitiful faces on the young children's face last year when Noel didn't bring the ham, she didn't think realize how important upholding traditions were. It kept Noel connected to a time in her life when the holidays were warm, and magical.

They were off!

Noel knew the quickest way to get to where the hams were every year. Everyone was fast walking trying not to run like small children. It was difficult. Noel and several others froze when they got to the spot and the hams were nowhere to be found.

"They moved them over there!" Someone shouted behind her. 

Noel jumped and turned her feet planted on the ground before she started charging like all the other ham having hopefuls. Elbowing, pushing, maybe even some biting until she finally reached the freezer where there was one succulent discount ham left. Noel leaned so far over the edge of the freezer she all but dumped herself into the freeze reaching. Once she touched her query, two large pale hands grabbed the ham and pulled it out of the freezer with Noel still clinging to it. 

It was obviously her ham. She was there first! 

"Thanks for the help." Noel stated trying to figure out why the tall slender white man was still holding her ham. She knew good and well that he wasn't thinking it was his ham after finding her turned upside down in the freezer reaching for it. She just knew he walked by and saw her struggling and was lending a helping hand.He raised a dark eyebrow. 

"Help you? Help you take my ham? I think not."Noel would have put her hands on her hips, rolled her neck and poked the man in the chest while giving him a couple pieces of her mind, but that would mean she would have to take her hands off her ham which wasn't going to happen. 

"I got to it first."

"It's only a ham." He stated rolling his bright blue eyes, straight nose,  dark hair tucked under a knit hat, with a long stylish coat that fell past his knees. Noel glared up at him. He would have been handsome had he not been holding on to her ham. 

"Then let me have it if it's only a ham." Noel glared hoping to intimate the man. He didn't seem phased.

"It's only my ham." The man tugged on the ham pulling Noel closer to him.

She tugged back. "Sorry sir but it is my ham ." There was no way she was walking out of that store this year without a ham. No way that she was going to see the sad faces of her cousin's children. Not this year!

"Mine." He tugged the ham Noel's resistance meaning very little the man was easily twice her size in muscle and height. 

Determination could out muscle muscle. Noel yanked down on the ham forcing the man to her height, her strong zone. Confusion flashed in his azure blue eyes. With a quick elbow to the lip and stomp of his foot he let go grabbing at his assaulted body parts. She took the opportunity to sprint out of sight. After hiding out in some of the busier aisles for a bit, Noel finally checked out. 

She went home, and put her holiday ham in her freezer where it belonged. A look of satisfaction pulling up the corner of her mouth as she closed her large basement freezer door. No pitiful faces this year. 
GENRE: Short Story
SUB GENRE: Romance